Pyrrole Disorder: Why You Need To Know About It

Countless underlying issues can contribute to chronic illness. A little known but common issue is called pyrrole disorder. First discovered in the 1950s, it’s believed to affect as much as 9% of the population, possibly affecting as many as 2 million Australians.


I first heard about pyrrole disorder around five years ago, and starting testing for this disorder shortly afterwards. The urine for the test has to be wrapped in aluminium foil and protected from light and sent to a special laboratory which specialises in this testing. I was extremely surprised to find how many of my chronically ill patients tested positive for the disorder; most of whom improved greatly on being treated for it.


Pyrrole disorder (also known as kryptopyrroluria (KPU) or more correctly as haemopyrrololactamuria (HPL)) is a common chemical imbalance in which a specific chemical pathway related to haemoglobin synthesis is disordered, resulting in build up of chemicals called pyrroles or haemopyrrolactams. This has various negative affects on the person, most strikingly pyrroles bind to and reduce levels of aldehydes such as zinc and B6, causing deficiency of these two critical nutrients. People with pyrrole disorder have a lifelong tendency to deficiency of zinc and B6 which is not easily corrected by diet alone. Also importantly it is the activated form of vitamin B6 which is often needed, as conversion of B6 (pyridoxine) to pyridoxine-5-phosphate (P5P) also tends to be severely impaired.


These imbalances have further downstream effects on various aspects of our chemistry, including our neurotransmitters. For this reason pyrrole-affected persons have a high predisposition for emotional symptoms and are frequently diagnosed with depression and anxiety. This is often due to low levels of serotonin and GABA, for which, zinc and B6 are essential cofactors in production of.  Anecdotally, it has been hypothesised that the influence of pyrrole disorder can also exacerbate and complicate a range of other medical conditions, including chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, MS and others. This may be due to the fact that zinc, B6 and taurine (which is an amino acid dependent on zinc and B6 for the production of) are very vital in production of glutathione, a key antioxidant and cellular defence protein in the body.


Classic Pyrrole Disorder Symptoms:

  • Absence of dream recall
  • White spots on finger nails
  • Morning nausea, poor morning appetite or tendency to delay or skip breakfast
  • Reading difficulties (e.g. dyslexia)
  • Affinity for spicy and salty foods
  • Pale skin, inability to tan or sunburn easily
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Sensitive to loud noises
  • Fearfulness (e.g. airplane travel, terrorist attacks)
  • Histrionic (dramatic) behavior
  • Inability to cope with stress
  • Severe mood swings
  • Frequent anger and rages
  • Tendency to stay up very late
  • Poor short term memory
  • High anxiety
  • Great inner tension


Incidence of pyrrole disorder in clinical populations (as reported by Walsh Research Institute):

  • ADHD 18%
  • Behavior disorder 28%
  • Autism 35%
  • Depression 24%
  • Bipolar disorder 35%
  • Schizophrenia 30%


A simple urine test done via specialty labs can determine the levels of pyrroles. Levels above a certain threshold indicate the presence of pyrrole disorder. Treatment involves supplementation of above normal doses of zinc, B6 and other related nutrients, including biotin, vitamins C and E, manganese, molybdenum and taurine. Cofactors for glutathione production (such as green tea extracts, curcumin and N-acetyl cysteine) can also be added to such as a formula.


Although this disorder is underrepresented in the peer-reviewed literature, I believe that further research in this area may yield striking results, and new directions in mental health research. Pyrrole disorders are also associated with methylation imbalances which can exacerbate and further complicate the biochemical imbalances caused by the pyrroles. You can read more about methylation imbalances here.


Do you need a test for pyrrole disorder?



  1. Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain. William J. Walsh, 2013.
  2. Nutrition and Mental Illness: An Orthomolecular Approach to Balancing Body Chemistry. Carl C. Pfeiffer, 1988

Stress and The Quest for More….

I’m writing this blog after having returned from a week in Noosa, a beautiful spot, around an hour away from home on the Sunshine Coast, Australia. What really struck me during this week is how foreign and special it felt to be totally at rest and doing nothing.


Doing nothing and being totally at peace seems to have dropped off the radar for many of us caught up in the tentacles of modern life. The advent of email, smartphones and internet seem to have brought a whole new layer of distraction and attention-grabbers that make it harder to enter that place within us called silence.  For many it seems that rest is at the end of “one more email”, “one more Facebook post” or “one more load of washing” which often lead us down a rabbit hole of ever escalating madness.


Underneath all of this most of have delicate stress systems. Most likely we evolved with a good balance between short-lived periods of our “fight and flight” system being activated and then longer periods of being in a “rest and relax” physiology. Once the preverbial sabre-tooth tiger (or whichever other prehistorical threat) was out of sight, we likely rested and restored our delicate adrenal and thyroid glands so as to fight another day.


The problem is for most of us, is that metaphorically speaking, the sabre-tooth tiger is always there in front of us. Whether it be the boss, the smartphone, the internal quest to succeed, or any variation of the above, they keep us in a “fight or flight” physiology and keeps us working our adrenal glands. And just like the employee who we overwork day after day, eventually…. they just are not able to keep up with the demands.


That’s where meditation comes in. Simply put meditation is the art of doing absolutely nothing and simply being present. You don’t have to call it meditation for it to work. However we have to be careful not to just turn it into another item on our “to do” list that we check off with reckless abandon. Rather we want the essence of meditation, which is restful presence, to permeate into the rest of our lives, filling it with an awareness and stillness that transforms each moment.


More about this soon….



Pura Vida in Costa Rica

This retreat was held from January 11th to 19th 2014 at the Nature Lodge, Montezuma, Costa Rica.


Costa Rica Sunset

Our first health retreat on the “facilitators” side of the fence was extremely special for the following reasons:


1. Costa Rica is an amazing part of the world. It holds 5% of the world’s biodiversity in only around 0.03% of the world’s surface. Talk about lush! More than 25% of Costa Rica’s land area consists of protected national parks. It has an amazingdiversity of fruit and vegetables, most of which are sold at traditional style markets. The amazing animal life came to say hello to us during morning yoga classes, including howler monkeys, squirrels, tucans and more.


2. We were fortunate enough to hold the retreat with Viktoras Kulvinskas, the author of the book “Survival in the 21st Century: Planetary Healer’s Manual” which came out in June 1975, the guy some people refer to as “The Godfather of the Living Foods Movement”. Viktoras is absolutely an innovative thinker and researcher and along with Dr Edward Howell Viktoras Treeput the idea of enzyme therapy into the holistic medicine world in the 1970s as well.


3. It was an amazing experience to spend a full 9 days plus more with the guests from Australia and the US. We were able to delve deeply into the emotional and physical side of what the retreat participants had been experiencing as symptoms and also of health philosophy in general. This appeared so much deeper than what I am typically able to achieve in my consulting rooms and the environment and time spent together seemed to facilitate this to occur in a natural way.


I am extremely excited to be able to hold a retreat back on the Sunshine Coast, Australia in April 2014. This will be a three-day retreat which will condense the essence of our teachings on “Making a Health Breakthrough” for an intense and powerful “nudge forward” in our physical, emotional and spiritual health.Arenal SanCan Cover Photo


Methylation – An Evolving Front

When I first got interested in nutritional medicine several years ago, there was a fair bit of talk about homocysteine and how studies such as this suggest that there may well be a linear association between accumulation of homocysteine in the system, and risk of heart disease, stroke and other chronic degenerative diseases. However subsequent studies didn’t show a consistent beneficial effect of homocysteine-lowering therapies on mortality outcomes.


More recent information on methylation may have shown some light upon this area, and why despite the positive association with disease, homocysteine-lowering hasn’t been particularly successful as a treatment. The nutrients that were used have mainly been synthetic folic acid and B12. Sometimes B6 was used as well.


Firstly, what is homocysteine? From all reports, it is an amino acid derivative, formed in the body from a methyl group being stripped off the amino acid methionine. It gets reformed into methionine by having a methyl group added onto it. Some people call this the methylation “cycle” as methionine is continously being stripped into homocysteine and then reformed back into methionine in the body.
Methyl groups are probably the most basic structural group in organic chemistry and basically consist of one group atom bonded to three hydrogen atoms. Chemically they are often written as CH3. Recent studies have shown that methyl groups may also have an important role in ageing, detoxification and mental health.


Why is this important? It appears that methylation reactions in the body are often impaired with many chronic degenerative diseases and those with poorer health in general. For instance this recent study suggested that those older men with poorer health generally had elevated homocysteine levels. So a reasonable assumption is that methylation is impaired in these patients, leading to accelerated ageing, poorer detoxification of metabolites in the body and less methyl groups available for keeping the nervous system healthy.


There are many ways you can measure methylation. The homocysteine test is probably a fairly crude measure, however a whole blood histamine has been studied by the Walsh Research Institute to predict the subtypes of those with mental illness who can benefit from methyl-donor therapy. Another way is to trial using a supplement such as TMG at a dosage of 1000mg to 2000mg daily for around 3-4 weeks and observe for signs of increased energy or mental alertness. It appears some people, a minority in countries such as Australia, may however have overactivity of certain parts of the methyl cycle and can be considered “overmethylators”. In these patients caution is needed with giving any methyl donor, but particularly TMG or the universyl methyl donor, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe).


Assessing and addressing methylation so far has produced quite impressive results in my practice. In my next blog I’ll talk a little about how methylation seems to be vital for rebuilding the protein molecule glutathione and also for heavy metal detoxification.



Integral Relationships…. And What I’ve Been Up To

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on this website and some of you are probably wondering what I’ve been up to. I’ve only been consulting one day a week for the last couple of months and my hiatus from the busy consulting life has taken me in all sorts of directions.

Staring at the SunOne of the biggest things happening is I’m getting married. This is following being together with my partner Candice for almost three years.

One of the major supporters I’ve had in the journey with Candice to this point has been a guy called Martin Ucik,  who has written a book called “Integral Relationships:  A Manual For Men”. Martin lives in Santa Rosa, California but travels around the world sharing his unique model of relationships.

Let’s face it: having a great relationship can make your life a whole lot more wonderful and having a dysfunctional one can make your life a misery. But further to this, Martin has explained how a relationship if approached properly, and with compatibility in terms of your stages of development, can be a powerful tool to personal growth.

What Martin has done is put together a pretty amazing compilation of some of the best models out there of relationship success. Some of the useful pieces of info he brought together for us included:

  • Each person seems to have a unique attachment style (anxious, avoidant or secure). Understanding your and your partner’s attachment style can greatly help some of the common traps around the amount of time you spend together and the different needs for freedom each partner can have. This book covers the concept in very scientific but accessible depth. Basically this info helped us to realise that we had a particular attachment style dynamic and by both of us recognising our unique approach and moving closer to a secure attachment style we were much less likely to run into issues and as a result we experienced a much greater level or relational harmony.
  • Effective communication is a big key to an effective relationship. One model of communication developed by Marshall Rosenberg called Non-Violent Communication (NVC) can greatly help communication to be a heart-felt expression of feelings and needs rather than of judgements and interpretations. A deeper point made by Martin Uick is that ultimately one has to overcome one’s shadow material, meaning the suppressed parts of one’s personality which are not integrated. However despite this NVC can be an extremely useful tool on the way to doing this deeper emotional work. Rosenberg’s seminal book on this communication model can be found here.


Another useful concept we have integrated into our relationship is that of Love Languages. This recognizes that each person has a unique love language (whether this be acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation etc) that truly makes their heart sing. Getting to know your partner’s love language can greatly help you know how to offer your expressions of affection in the way it is best received. These concepts were first introduced to the world in the book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. This information helped me to realize that by providing quality time to Candice every day she’ much more likely to have a full emotional bank account rather than one running on empty!

There is a heap more info in Martin Ucik’s book that is way more esoteric than what is explained above, but for brevity what I would say is that Martin has basically integrated some of the most relevant information from various wisdom traditions around the world to really put together a unified “map” of finding and sustaining a healthy relationship.

So we decided to invite Martin Down Under to run a weekend workshop in late November/early December. We chose Sydney simply because of accessibility to the largest community of people. This workshop is likely to be beneficial to anyone who is looking to enrich their relationship or is currently single and wants to explore criteria for a healthy evolutionary partnership.

Click here for details of the Integral Relationships Workshop in Sydney from November 29th to December 1st 2013.

Please comment below on what you have found has helped you the most in developing a healthy relationship…


Minerals – The Foundation of Health

Linus Pauling, the double Nobel Prize winning biochemist is quoted as saying “You can trace every sickness, every disease, and every ailment to a mineral deficiency.” This was stated a great many years ago, however the truth of this statement is obvious to most nutritional medicine doctors today.

Minerals are critical for growth, metabolism, absorption of vitamins and other nutrients, prevention of disease and almost every biochemical process in the body. Problems with vision, hair and nail quality and skin symptoms are among the most common early outward signals of mineral deficiencies.

A US Senate document dated back as far as 1936 stated that 99% of the population were mineral deficient. This situation certainly hasn’t improved and may even be worse here in Australia, given that our country is known to have one of the most mineral deficient soil states in the world.

Minerals act as co-enzymes meaning that they “activate” enzymes, which are the biological catalysts of life. One example of this is magnesium which activates many of the enzymes required for cellular energy production, and selenium which activates an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, the main biological role of which is to protect our system from oxidative damage i.e. inflammation, premature ageing and DNA mutations.

As Dr Gabriel Cousens points out, plants generally process the minerals contained in soil down to angstrom size (one tenth of a micrometre) and it is in this form that they can be assimilated by the human organism. Angstrom sized minerals can not only be absorbed into the bloodstream, but also across the cell membrane where they are able to upgrade the DNA expression of the organism.

There are many forms of minerals which are well absorbed through the intestinal barrier, such as picolinates, chelates and colloids. These appear to have biochemical effects in the blood however according to research by Brian David Anderson, Tru Ott and others, are unable to penetrate into and upgrade the cellular DNA expression. This highlights the fact that mineral availability, particle size and molecular form are all important factors that need to be taken into consideration when addressing mineral deficiencies.

The mineral content of soils all over the world have been significantly depleted through modern agricultural practices. Intensive farming gradually strip soils of the plethora of mineral elements required to maintain human health while only a small number of the almost one hundred minerals and trace elements needed are replaced in the form of fertiliser containing less than a mere five or so elements.

Add to this the increased stresses of daily life which increase our excretion of minerals, exposure to heavy metal toxicity which increases our need for minerals and the widespread gut impairments we see in clinical practice that limit absorption of these substances from our food these days and you can understand why mineral deficiency is as widespread as it is and is having a significant negative impact on health.

As Dr Lawrence Wilson points out; as an organism becomes depleted in minerals, mineral binding sites start to become filled with less preferred minerals. Essentially this is analagous to a car designed for premium fuel being run on low grade petrol. Although it will still run, its parts will never operate with the same level of efficiency and precision which ultimately affects the performance i.e. our health.

By remineralising our system with the full spectrum of biologically required minerals, it appears that toxic metals and less preferred minerals may be displaced from mineral binding sites and the preferred minerals start to occupy these binding sites, thus upgrading the function of all the organs of the human body. It has been my clinical experience that the mineralisation process can take up to 12 months.

The ideal way of obtaining minerals from is from highly mineralised plants which have already processed the minerals into the ideal form that our body requires. Good sources include organic or bio-dynamically grown vegetables, sea vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. There are many other foods such as grains which are also high in specific minerals, but few can compete with fresh produce. In many cases, supplementation with angstrom-sized ionic minerals is also necessary to achieve rapid remineralisation.

Remineralisation also appears to confer the ability to deal with infections more and to have flexibility to deal with the problems of life with greater equanimity and balance.

This process can be monitored through regular, properly performed and interpreted hair mineral analyses, or the use of red blood cell mineral tests which can give us some insight into the levels of minerals that are actually reaching the tissues and cells.



1. Cousens, G., Spiritual Nutrition, North Atlantic Books, CA, 2005

2. Wilson, L., Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis, The Center for Development Inc, 2010.

3. Jensen, B., The Chemistry of Man, Bernard Jensen, Escondido, CA 1983.


Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Insomnia is one of the most common imbalances faced in today’s world.  A number of factors can contribute, including the use of stimulants, lack of exercise, excess stress and dropping melatonin levels. It is known that a good night’s sleep keeps your brain and body healthy, and is vital for achieving vibrant health. Here are some ways to aid getting a great sleep:

  • HAVE A REGULAR TIME FOR SLEEPING.  Going to sleep at around the same time allows your body’s circadian rhythm to normalize.  The best times for being asleep are generally at 10pm until 2 am. It is during these times that the immune system regenerates.
  • ADD SOME EXERCISE RELAXATION INTO YOUR DAY.  Making sure you have some time during the day for aerobic exercise, yoga, meditation or deep breathing techniques can do wonders to reduce stress hormones in your body and prepare you for a good night’s sleep.
  • AVOID STIMULANTS AFTER LUNCH.  Caffeine-containing beverages, including tea/coffee/cola drinks will all interfere with getting restful sleep.
  • MOVE ELECTROMAGNETIC DEVICES AWAY FROM YOUR BED.  Electric devices such as an alarm clock in close proximity to your body (ie within one metre) will affect your electrical conductivity of your brain, affecting your ability to sleep peacefully.  Consider attaining an EMF protection device, available from www.biopro.com.au or a Barefoot Connections ® Queen Size Earthing Sheet.
  • CHECK YOUR MELATONIN LEVELS. Melatonin is an important hormone produced by the pineal gland in response to darkness at night. Studies have shown that those working shift work, keeping sleep times, or with adrenal fatigue may have low levels of melatonin. Melatonin levels seem to also drop around the late 40s to the early 50s.  You can check your levels via a simple salivary test, ordered by your practitioner.  Supplement melatonin if low.
  • CHECK FOR AN ESTROGEN/PROGESTERONE IMBALANCE. A dominance of estrogens in the system relative to progesterone can interfere with sleep as progesterone is a relaxant.  Detoxifying excessive estrogens out of the system may be an important part of holistic treatment for insomnia.

Tips For Healing Underactive Thyroid

Underactive Thyroid is a colloquial term for hypothyroidism, usually caused by an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This condition appears to be significantly undiagnosed and undertreated. There are a number of nutritional and dietary factors however which play an important role.

Common symptoms of an underactive thyroid include:

  1. Fatigue and low energy levels
  2. Weight gain and difficulty losing weight
  3. Fuzzy thinking and poor concentration
  4. Hair loss and poor quality of nails
  5. Intolerance to cold weather and changes in body temperature

Some tips that may help the thyroid rebuild:

  • Supplement with iodine, zinc, selenium, tyrosine and B vitamins
  • Important superfoods to include are maca (a South American root which balances hormones), coconut oil, brazil nuts, kelp or dulse and B pollen.
  • Avoid overfeeding on soy products and brassica vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
  • Eliminate refined carbohydrates and sugars so as to balance blood glucose. This includes most grains.
  • Determine your metabolic type and eat in accordance with it.
  • Check for heavy metal toxicity in the system and get onto a holistic protocol to detoxify these out of your system
  • Look into your glutathione levels, an important cellular defence nutrient. Supplementing this is particularly useful in autoimmune thyroid disease.
  • Test for intolerance to gluten grains such as wheat, oats, barley and rye with anti-gliadin antibodies and tissue transglutaminase antibodies. Once tested, trial a two to three week exclusion and rechallenge of all gluten grains to observe for adverse symptoms.

The following tests and treatments can be useful:

  • Take your basal body temperature for at least one week per month and aim for an early morning temperature of 36.5 degrees or above.
  • Consider a thyroid reflex test to look at intracellular levels of thyroid function
  • Have your thyroid levels checked including free T3 and free T4, a “reverse T3”, DHEA and vitamin D3 levels
  • In some cases, natural thyroid extract or T4/T3 combinations may be needed.

Recent observations are that in some people, high-dose iodine can aggravate the immune response against the thyroid gland and worsen a thyroid condition. It is recommended to start with low doses with iodine and monitor with ongoing thyroid testing.


Tips For Keeping Your Insulin Levels In Check

Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas in response to sugar entering into the bloodstream. Generally high glycaemic sugars such as white or raw sugar, white flour products, fructose, honey and cooked animal fat appear to all raise the insulin levels and cause the cells to become resistant to insulin. This causes an increase in abdominal fat, fatty liver disease, increases in blood pressure and cholesterol (particularly triglycerides) and promotes inflammation in the body. Other conditions associated with insulin resistance are polycystic ovarian syndrome, ischaemic heart disease, obesity and cancer.

Below are some tips to keep insulin levels down:

  1. AVOID SWEETENERS OTHER THAN XYLITOL OR STEVIA. Most sweeteners (including honey) raise blood sugar levels, and thus insulin. Artificial sweeteners often act as excitotoxins in the brain and can contribute to neurodegenerative conditions. Xylitol is a polyol extracted from birch sap. Stevia is a sweet leaf and the sweetener contains no glucose or fructose. Both can be   purchased from your local health food store. The ideal type of stevia is a green powder, not the   clear drops.
  2. MINIMIZE SOFT DRINKS.  Most soft drinks and even some commercial juices contain high fructose corn syrup, sugar and/or caffine. Stick with water and herbal teas for optimal reduction of insulin levels and longevity.
  3. EAT LOW GLYCAEMIC FRUIT ONLY.  Sweet fruit such as mangoes, bananas, pineapple etc are often hybridized and contain high levels of fructose, which appears to also contribute greatly to insulin resistance syndrome. Stick to berries, cherries and grapefruit for insulin balance.
  4. LOAD UP ON GREEN VEGETABLES AND SEA VEGETABLES.  These high nutrient foods contain important minerals to support the pancreas in insulin production.
  5. CONSIDER SUPPLEMENTING WITH A GLUCOSE FORMULA containing chromium, vanadium, magnesium and zinc along with herbs with gymnema or bitter melon to support healthy blood sugar metabolism.
  6. TAKE YOUR METABOLIC TYPE INTO ACCOUNT. Some people have a greater need for protein and fat then others in order to balance their blood glucose system. A fast oxidizer or parasympathetic constitution is the classic sign that this may apply to you. The advanced Healthexcel Metabolic Typing ®  test  is available here.

Top Herbs From The Ayurvedic Tradition

The ayurvedic medicine tradition is an ancient system of health care from India, and is based on the works of Charaka and Sushruta. It is based on nurturing one’s individual consistitution and living a life of balance with one’s season, constitution, lifestyle and food choices.
Here are my picks of some of the top herbs from this tradition:

1) Tulsi – also known as sacred Basil, tulsi is a strong antioxidant. It helps fight and neutralize free radicals which come through pollution, radiation and stress in the body. It is also an adaptogen, which helps us to combat the effects of stress, or increased demands on our daily routine.

2) Ginger – ginger is known as adarak (grated root) or sunthi (powder) in the Ayurvedic system. Ginger is also a powerful anti-oxidant, helps with nausea, and sooths digestion for those with low appetite. Topically powdered ginger can help with joint or muscle pains or headaches.

3) Turmeric – a very important anti-inflammatory herb which has been shown to switch off anti-ageing genes. It also has very powerful antioxidant qualities. It is the yellow pigment in many curries and can be purchased as a root, similar to ginger in appearance.

4) Shilajit – an important rejuvenative herb which contains fulvic and humic acids, important solvents which help neutralize toxic compounds in the body. Shilajit is also considered to be a powerful antioxidant and is helpful in a variety of disorders, including pain, nervous system problems and impotence.

5) Shatavari – also known as Indian asparagus, is another important rejuvenative herb, Shatavari is considered a tonic for most female reproductive disorders and increases breast milk production in nursing mothers as well as digestive fire in both males and females.